News: Highlighting helicopter history: MAG-16 celebrates 60 years
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – Twelve aircraft flew a historical path along the California coast, highlighting the achievements of Marine Aircraft Group 16 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., for their 60th anniversary, June 28.
Each of the aircraft represents a squadron within MAG-16. Six MV-22B Ospreys and six CH-53 Super Stallions participated in the anniversary flight.
First established in 1952, MAG-16 was the first helicopter group in the Marine Corps.
“It is American history,” said Lt. Col. Kevin M. Duffy, the MAG-16 operations officer. “It is 60 years of serving the individual Marine, via helicopter transport. I think it’s a pretty momentous and significant event to think about. We’ve been at the forefront of technology and the use of that technology.”
The 12 squadrons of MAG-16 share a robust daily interaction, describes Duffy.
MAG-16 consists of six Marine heavy helicopter squadrons and four Marine medium tiltrotor squadrons, as well as Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16 and Marine Wing Support Squadron 374.
“They work individually, but they also work together to make the mission happen,” said Duffy. “We have a term here that we use: HMH-West or VMM-West. Even though we have six VMM squadrons and four HMH squadrons, a lot of times we’ll accomplish the mission with equipment, aircraft and Marines from each of the units. It’s very positive. All the commanders and units have a great working relationship to get the job done.”
In the last quarter, MAG-16 participated in 22 community related events, most of which were air shows and static displays.
While air shows demonstrate the airborne capabilities of the aircraft, static displays serve as a unique opportunity for the community to have an up-close-and-personal view of the aircraft. Therefore, each of the static displays is supported with a pilot and crew chief to allow community members to explore the inside of the mammoth machines.
Duffy explained the significance and accomplishments of vertical envelopment since the Vietnam War. With the development of the MV-22B Osprey, the versatile aircraft slated to replace the CH-46E Sea Knight, the capabilities of these aircraft continue to advance.
“The history of the nation and what we have had to do to defend this nation walks in step with what we’ve done here at MAG-16,” said Duffy. “I think that it’s important that the community knows what the Marines of the local community have done to support the nation.”
Keeping in flight for 60 years requires adaptation to ensure quality, safety and mission success.
“We’ve had our 60 years of history,” said Duffy. “One of the great things about the Marine Corps, and MAG-16 is that we adapt to new technology.”
Highlighting the achievements of MAG-16 took massive amounts of planning.
In addition to hundreds of hours pilots spend working, planning and coordinating flight paths, air crew members must complete numerous hours training and preparing for each mission.
Ground crew members also contribute a mammoth number of hours before and after each flight.
Prior to any flight, anywhere from 28-50 hours of preparation work is done per mechanic, on each aircraft, explained Master Gunnery Sgt. Pete Reyes, the maintenance chief with MAG-16 and a Fresno, Calif., native.
With five or six mechanics working on each of the 12 aircraft, the number of hours soars into the thousands.
“Every job is important,” said Reyes. “Every Marine is important. Most Marines believe what they are doing is truly important. It’s a sense of teamwork.”
A large number of cooperative efforts attributes to the success of MAG-16.
One of the biggest factors in the longtime vitality of MAG-16 is the variety of terrain located on the West Coast. This enables the pilots and air crew to have practical training for amphibious, desert, mountain and urban terrains, as well as long-range flights, cold-weather training and confined area landings.
“Allowing the pilots and aircrew to train in a dusty area prepares them for the actual terrain [in the Middle East],” said Reyes. “Being close to so many different types of terrains and environments gets us prepared. It’s the same thing we’ve done back here, just a different country.”
Another factor in the success of MAG-16 is the dependence on respect.
Reyes explained the reciprocal trust between the pilots and crew members. Daily, the pilots put their lives in the hands of the mechanics who prepare the aircraft for safe flight. The mechanics in return trust the pilots will return safely with the aircraft. While in flight, the crew puts their lives in the hands of the pilots to safely fly them to their mission, while they ensure the equipment is functioning as it should in the back of the aircraft.
“Everyone knows their ranks, everyone knows who is an officer and who is enlisted,” said Reyes. “But when we get in the back of [an aircraft], its one team. There is no rank; the mutual respect is out there.”
This mutual respect keeps MAG-16 ready to accomplish any mission.
Regardless of the outcome, Reyes said he believes every mission is a success, as long as two key points are remembered: no one is left behind and MAG-16 continues to keep flying.
Reyes recalled seeing a sign posted outside of Marine Corps Air Station New River.
“It says: ‘Pardon our noise, it’s the sound of freedom,’” said Reyes. “I firmly believe in that. When the community comes out for air shows and demonstrations, it’s a chance to say thank you to them. It’s a chance to show them what we’re about; this is what we’ve been doing.”
The anniversary flight is an opportunity to display the past 60 years in the history of aviation.
“It’s the culmination of the hard work done by everyone,” said Reyes. “It shows what teamwork is all about and the innovations of adjusting and adapting to new technology. We adapt, overcome, and keep on going. We’ll keep on pushing and doing what we do.”
Date Posted:06.29.2012 13:24
Location:MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, CA, US
Hometown:SAN DIEGO, CA, US
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